Maybe you’ve been on a few flights hopping between cities or even done your share of long-haul intercontinental flights. However, have you ever been on a flight that only lasted a few minutes—or just a few seconds? Some of the shortest flights in the world are exactly that short.
You may be wondering what’s the point of a flight that lasts only a few minutes. However, in some parts of the world, flying is the easiest way to get around. It’s much faster and more efficient than going over roads or via boat.
Many of the shortest flights on this list operate between islands that are hard to connect to the mainland or to larger islands otherwise inaccessible, and that’s why commercial airlines continue to operate flights. Others serve popular tourist routes or are popular tourist attractions in their own right.
The list primarily uses flight time for its criteria, although where flight times were too similar, it uses nautical miles to differentiate further. Only commercial flights are included because private or charter flights can be as short as the customer wishes, and there’s no good way to track those.
15. Okinawa and Kumejima, Japan
Some of the shortest flights in the world are the ones connecting different islands in archipelagos. One of these is the flight connecting Okinawa with Kumejima, another town in the Okinawa archipelago. The flight lasts about 36 minutes and spans 50 nautical miles.
Kumejima is one of the most remote towns in Japan. It is located at the very southern tip of the Okinawa island chain, a region of Japan that is itself far from the mainland. The Okinawa islands have a distinct culture compared to the mainland.
Japan Airlines and Ryukyu Air Commuter are the main airlines operating flights on this short route. Your other option for getting to Kumejima is a ferry from Okinawa.
14. Helsinki (Finland) and Tallinn (Estonia)
The flight between Helsinki in Finland and Tallinn in Estonia is one of the shortest flights in the world connecting two capital cities. The flight only takes about 30 minutes and covers about 55 nautical miles.
Helsinki and Tallinn are geographically very close together. However, they are separated by the Gulf of Finland, a large, frigid body of water. Other options for transportation are taking a two-hour-long ferry or driving around the bay, which requires crossing through Russia.
Thanks to the short, frequent flights by Finnair and the ferries, the two cities are closely connected. Tallinn is a popular day trip for visitors to Helsinki, and many Finns go there as well on city breaks.
13. Manama (Bahrain) and Dammam (Saudi Arabia)
The tiny island country of Bahrain, located in the Persian Gulf, is very closely connected to Saudi Arabia. Its only land border is the King Fahd Causeway, a bridge between it and Saudi Arabia. Bahrain is also connected to Saudi Arabia via short, frequent flights to Dammam that only take 30 minutes and cover 47 miles.
Dammam is located on the eastern coast of Saudi Arabia and is the capital of the country’s Eastern Province. It is a popular hub for Saudis trying to get to Bahrain, and most of the short flights on this route are connecting flights.
Many people from Saudi Arabia travel to Bahrain to enjoy the relatively relaxed atmosphere. The island is a popular international tourist destination.
12. Boa Vista and Sal, Cape Verde
The West African country of Cape Verde is an archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean. One of the shortest flights in the world connects two of its islands, Boa Vista and Sal. The flight covers 36 nautical miles and takes about 25 minutes.
Cape Verde is an archipelago with several islands in a chain. Although the country has a ferry service, ferries are much slower and unreliable. The schedule changes often and boats have to be canceled due to the rough waters of the Atlantic.
Tourists and residents alike rely on flights between Boa Vista and Sal, operated by Binter Cabo Verde or Transport Interilhas de Cabo Verde.
11. Petersburg and Wrangell, Alaska, United States
Air travel is the lifeline of Alaska, the largest state in the United States. Short commuter flights are very common. One of the shortest is the flight between Petersburg and Wrangell, which covers 26 nautical miles and only takes about 20 minutes.
There are no commercial flights that only fly between Petersburg and Wrangell. Instead, Alaska Airlines connects these two as part of its “Milk Run” flight, which starts in Seattle and connects Ketchikan, Petersburg, and Wrangell before landing in Juneau.
Alaska’s large surface area and inhospitable climate make getting around by road impossible for much of the year, which is why short flights such as this one are very common.
10. Brazzaville (Republic of the Congo) and Kinshasa (The Democratic Republic of the Congo)
The flight between Brazzaville and Kinshasa is the shortest flight in the world connecting two capital cities. The official distance of the flight is just 13 nautical miles, and flights usually take less than 30 minutes.
Brazzaville and Kinshasa are very close to each other. Although they are in two different countries, they are just on opposite sides of the Congo River.
Although the two cities are close together by distance, the infrastructure connecting them is very poor. There are no bridges near either capital. However, people can take a ferry which actually is shorter than a flight.
9. Bonaire and Curaçao, The Netherlands
Bonaire and Curaçao are part of the “ABC Islands,” the nickname for the Dutch Caribbean territory of the Leeward Antilles. The flight takes just 25 minutes, although it covers more distance than the distance between the two Congolese cities at 40 nautical miles.
Residents who have to go between the two islands sometimes take flights, although there is also a ferry. However, most people who take these flights are tourists.
The ABC Islands are very popular tourist destinations thanks to their pristine beaches and the semi-rarity of hurricanes. Many tourists like to island-hop between these two and the third island in the group, Aruba.
8. Minami-Daito and Kita-Daito, Japan
The flight between Minami-Daito and Kita-Daito is another one of the short flights connecting the over 100 islands in the Okinawa Prefecture. Minami-Daito and Kita-Daito are just eight miles apart, and the flight between them takes about 20 minutes.
Both islands are part of the Daito Islands group within the larger Okinawa archipelago.
Both islands are mostly used for architecture. They also have ferry ports, but flying is the fastest way to go between the two.
7. Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar, Tanzania
The flight between Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar connects the largest city of Tanzania with Zanzibar, one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations. The flight only spans about 28 miles, and, depending on the flight schedule, you can get a flight that lasts as little as 15 minutes.
Your other option for getting to Zanzibar from Dar es Salaam is a ferry. The ferry takes longer, a little less than 2 hours, but is a scenic way of traveling between the two cities.
If you are visiting Tanzania, you must include a visit to Zanzibar in your itinerary since it is so easy to reach. The island is home to beautiful beaches and a unique culture thanks to its semi-autonomous status within the country.
6. St. Maarten and Saba, The Netherlands
Some of the shortest flights in the Caribbean connect St. Maarten to other islands. The flight between St. Maarten and Saba covers a distance of about 30 miles and only takes about 15 minutes. Both islands are part of the Dutch territories in the Caribbean.
If you are an aviation enthusiast, both islands are must-visits during your trip to the Caribbean. Saba’s Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport has the shortest commercial runway in the world. Pilots only have 900 feet in which to make their descent before the runway drops off into the sea.
Regional carrier Winair is the only airline that flies along this route and uses special aircraft that can stop and turn quickly. Pilots have to undergo rigorous training to join this route, and once they pass, they earn the nickname “Top Gun,” giving you an idea of how hard it is to land on Saba. If you’re a nervous flyer, maybe take the ferry connecting the two islands instead.
5. St. Maarten (The Netherlands) and St. Barts (France)
Another short yet dramatic flight connecting St. Maarten with another Caribbean island is the flight between the Dutch territory and the French island of St. Barthelemy, affectionately known as St. Bart’s. The flight between the two also lasts about 15 minutes but spans a slightly shorter distance than the flight to Saba, about 26 miles.
St. Bart’s airport is another airport with a dramatic runway. Although it is not as short as Saba’s, it also has a very short runway that drastically ends at the beach. Nervous flyers should take the ferry, which only takes about half an hour longer.
Despite the sometimes-hair-raising experience of getting there, a trip to St. Bart’s is a must if you want a dose of glamour on your Caribbean vacation. The rich and famous of the world have made the island their playground, particularly around New Year’s, for decades. However, the pristine natural beauty and dose of French chic make this a great vacation spot even for us mere mortals (those that can survive the runway, that is).
4. St. Maarten (The Netherlands) and Anguilla (UK)
The shortest flight from St. Maarten and the shortest flight in the Caribbean is the one connecting St. Maarten with the nearby island of Anguilla, part of the UK’s Caribbean holdings. The flight takes less than 10 minutes and only spans a distance of 12 nautical miles.
If you’re an avid aviation enthusiast on vacation in the Caribbean, you have to book a flight to St. Maarten for one of these short flights. However, that’s not the only reason plane spotters come here.
St. Maarten’s Princess Juliana International Airport is right by Maho Beach. You can work on your tan and watch the planes take off (although brace yourself for the larger jets). A local beach bar even has a chalkboard that posts flight schedules.
3. Connemara and Inis Mór, Ireland
Most of the shortest flights in the world are the ones connecting remote islands to the mainland. One of these is the flight between Connemara and Inis Mór, an island in the Aran Islands chain. The flight takes less than 10 minutes and is the shortest of the regional flights to the Aran Islands.
The Aran Islands are just off Ireland’s western coast and a popular destination for tourists thanks to their windswept beauty and authentic Gaelic culture. Inis Mór is the largest in the group with plenty of prehistoric and Celtic sites.
If you don’t want to fly, you can always take the ferry from Galway.
2. Karpathos and Kasos, Greece
Karpathos and Kasos (sometimes spelled Kathos) are two islands in the Greek Dodecanese archipelago. They are only 12 nautical miles apart and the flight between the two lasts just five minutes.
If you don’t want to bother with taking a plane, you can take the ferry service that goes between the two islands. However, the ferry takes much longer, about 90 minutes.
Regional carrier Olympic Air operates the flight that connects these two.
1. Westray and Papa Westray, Orkney Islands, Scotland, UK
The shortest commercial flight in the world is the flight between Westray and Papa Westray, two islands in the Orkney archipelago of Scotland. The flight takes less than two minutes if the wind is right.
Regional carrier Loganair connects the two islands, which are only about 1.7 miles apart. The only other option people have for getting between the two is a 20-minute ferry that often goes through choppy waters.
While hardcore aviation enthusiasts like taking this route to experience the Guinness World Record-holder for the shortest flight in the world, the route primarily serves the 80 residents of tiny, isolated Papa Westray.